This is a quote from Doug Dietz who plays the leading role in one of the greatest design thinking success stories: Redesigning the MRI experience for children.
I want you to think about that quote for a second; think about your life and your career. If you are having fun, that is cool, you have reached the apex.
However, if you are not having fun, what is your prognosis?
Have you ever had friends who would complain about their job or situation? When you offered advice, it is like they did not hear; they continue on. When you see them, say a few months later, the same story is recited almost verbatim.
An autonomous career without GPS
Some folks’ lives are like an autonomous vehicle without navigation technology. Headed down the road with no direction, you hit a bump here, you back up and you start out again, You’re rudderless. It would be great if life had a GPS. We could choose a destination no matter where we were and our GPS would calculate all the turns – U-turns, left turns and right — and get us there. If we really screwed up, it would guide us back on track. Oh, how we wish!
Some of us are destinationless if that is a word. We are not happy we are basically like a bumper car without controls.
We can all choose a destination, but how do we know where we want to go? If you could take a few minutes to think about your destination, what would it be?
If you are like a lot of folks, you may come up empty.
But even when you do have an idea, how do you know how to get there? Asking for directions just gets you blank stares. It all kind of comes back to that “Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?” question
Next time you get in your car to go somewhere new, the first thing your GPS asks is “Where do you want to go?” What’s YOUR DESTINATION? Same concept.
Knowing your destination is the key
When you find people who are having fun at work, part of the reason why is they know their destination and they are having fun trying to reach it — excited about getting up in the morning, excited by the thrill of the hunt; it’s their positive mindset. Sort of like a treasure hunt. That does not mean their life comes without challenges. They have their rollover days, rollover as in when it is time to get up you just rollover. Yet their inner-GPS gets them back on course. They make the adjustment and move forward again.
If the misery of career indirection has settled in, you can’t ignore it. You basically have no choice unless you want to live out your existence just drifting. When I review engagement numbers of organizations, one of my walk away principles is that the vast majority of the disengaged people are in this rudderless category; they have not figured out what they want to do. They are just going through the motions. Day in, day out they come to work doing just enough to get by.
It’s half their fault
This is what I tell senior leaders: You can have all the “perks” in the world, but if I do not want to be there, it does not matter what you offer. The sad part is that so many people think the next job is the answer. Sometimes it is if it’s a move toward their destination. More often they just took a turn just for the sake of making a turn without knowing their destination. After a short period of time, they are back in the same place.
Going through the motions with no fun. Hating Mondays, but loving Fridays. If that is your MO, spend some time trying to figure out what it is you really want to do. Over time, your destination may change, but you make adjustments. You move in one direction, and it could call for a course correction that could possibly take you it in another direction. But in the end, you will get there.
So every evening as you prepare for bed, think through that destination and ask yourself, “Am I heading in the right direction?” You really have no choice if you are not having fun. The prescription is the destination.
Ron Thomas is Managing Director, StrategyFocused Group DWC-LLC, based in Dubai.
He was formerly CEO of Great Place to Work-Gulf countries, also based in Dubai. A former CHRO who was based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Ron is also a senior faculty member and representative of the Human Capital Institute [hci.org ] covering the MENA region. He...